Bethesda Workshops refers to these posts as “Encouragement Emails,” and as some of you have noticed, I haven’t written one for weeks. My spirit has been too burdened and distressed to write – or to write something that is publishable, at least.

Life is difficult, as M. Scott Peck said succinctly. Indeed, it often is, and I find myself in a particularly difficult season. In every arena I have felt “hard pressed on every side” (2 Cor. 4:8), and for weeks, I admit feeling both crushed and in despair.

I am experiencing powerlessness on a deeper level than ever before, and the intense unmanageability of several situations has left me unhinged. I have struggled to trust God in a way foreign to me for close to 25 years.

I’m grateful for the relief I’ve found in pouring out my angst to God through writing. I’m more thankful for God’s responses, which have come to me in the hardest days and longer nights. Slowly, as I have brawled with God over what I perceive are unacceptable outcomes, God has gently reminded me that God is in control, and my invitation is to trust God’s plan.

More slowly still, I am relearning the release of acceptance. When I accept reality for what it is, and not what I think it should be, I free interior space for trusting God. When I accept that people are wounded and broken and profoundly sinful, including myself, I am liberated from unrealistic expectations. When I accept the grace of God’s presence in any given moment, I am comforted.

At this time of Thanksgiving, I’m aware of many blessings despite the painful circumstances. As I practice the discipline of gratitude, every morning God stiches me back together and shows me the path for that day. Recently, I’ve started speaking out loud a personal liturgy that has been forged during this season, and the affirmations have become my trilogy of thankfulness.

“God, I trust you. And I am thankful.”

“Jesus, you are with me. And I am thankful.”

“Spirit, you guide me. And I am thankful.”

This Thanksgiving if you are burdened with difficult sorrows, I pray that God’s faithfulness will calm your fears, that Jesus’ presence will abate your loneliness, and the Spirit’s guidance will light your way.

“For we have this treasure in jars of clay, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Cor. 4:7).

Marnie C. Ferree